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Link established; passport granted

By NANCY PARADIS

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


I had hoped to travel to England this month. I am a British citizen, born in Chiswick, London, in November 1965.

In January 1969, my parents, my brother and I moved to the United States, coming in via Long Island. I was 41/2 then and represented on my mother's passport.

She has since lost her passport in New York. She had it renewed in February 1998, but I am no longer on it since I am now an adult. I have never had a British passport of my own.

I sent away for my British birth certificate so I could apply for my British passport. Upon applying in March, I sent my British birth certificate, U.S. green card (the original, not a photocopy) and two signed and witnessed passport photos.

On May 5 I received a notice from the British embassy requesting more information, namely my original long-form birth certificate; the passport I originally left the United Kingdom on or the full details of when and where it was issued and in whose name if it was; any old or expired passports I had; a letter, on paper with a letterhead and an attached photo of me, from a professional person who has known me for a least five years stating how long he or she has known me and in what capacity and that the photo is a true likeness of me; a similar letter on letterhead paper from my employer with a photo of me; a clear copy of my U.S. alien card, driving license and any other available photo IDs.

I complied with this request as best I could and wrote that I had never needed a passport before and therefore didn't have one.

On May 24 I received a letter back stating, "In order to confirm your identity and eligibility for a British passport, we still require evidence of your time spent in the United Kingdom such as your national health card, U.K. driving license, hospital records, school reports, bankbooks, etc. We specifically require original historical documentation to show that you have resided in the United Kingdom. You can also forward documentation of your schooling in the United States."

Since I was only 4 when I left England, I could comply only with the last item requested.

I called the consulate, and the person I spoke with just repeated that I needed to send the requested information. I have already sent all the information and documentation I have.

My last speeding ticket was more than seven years ago, and I have no criminal record.

I would appreciate any help you can give me in getting a passport. Linda Roberts

Response: Sean Ferguson, chief examiner for the passport office of the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., said that, after a thorough review of your application for a first British passport, the decision has been made to grant you one. Your case remains somewhat weak, he said, and it was necessary for the passport office to spend time on your behalf so that the required standards could be met. Ordinarily, he said it would have been your responsibility to provide proof of your identity and clear evidence of claim to British nationality.

Applications such as yours can be awkward, he said, because you left the United Kingdom at the age of 4 to move to the United States. It can be difficult in such cases for first-time applicants to produce the required, original documents.

He said you were able to produce only a 2000-issued birth certificate, although your resident alien card and supporting letters were useful. He said that, ultimately, the "connection" to the United Kingdom was missing, but, by researching the records, Ferguson said, the passport office was able to link your mother's application details with yours.

We were glad to learn that you got your passport. Future renewals should be a piece of cake compared to this, and we suggest that you make sure to renew your passport before it expires.

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